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Back in January, a public hearing was held to allow comments concerning changes that could be coming the North Carolina's hunting and fishing rules.

The proposed changes outlined at the hearing would affect the 2014-2015 fishing, hunting and trapping seasons. Though the meeting took place a month ago, public comment will be accepted through February 14 before any decisions are made by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC).

“In February 2014, after considering comments from the public and consulting with staff, the Wildlife Resources Commission will make final decisions on the proposed regulations,” said James Cogdell, chairman of the commission. “The rules that are adopted will then be available in the N.C. Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest 2014-2015.The Regulations Digest will be available on Aug. 1, 2014 from your licensing agent and on the NCWRC website at www.ncwildlife.org.”

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Amidst the onslaught of low temperatures that have impacted lives here in Western North Carolina, another assault threatens to take hold throughout the state with the rising prices of propane.

According to data obtained from the United States Energy Information Administration the price of propane on Dec. 2, 2013, was on average, just under $3 per gallon. In two months, that price has grown to $4 per gallon, just in time for the latest winter storm. Since the sale of propane isn't monitored by the N.C. Utilities Commission like other forms of energy, distributors are able to set the price however they may see fit.

In response to this practice, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has come out in opposition to the practice of price gouging — or increasing the price because of high demand as a result of a disaster.

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Beginning in 2016, North Carolina will require voters to show a photo identification (photo ID) when they vote in person. This change is a result of the Voter Information Verification Act or "VIVA." (S.L. 2013-381). Until 2016, most voters will not be required to show any form of identification when they vote.

Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

Before 2016, there are certain voters who will be required to show some form of identification when they present to vote - either "in person" or when voting "by mail." First-time voters, who, at the time of their initial voter registration did not provide their North Carolina driver license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number, or who provided a number that could not be validated, will be required to show identification when they vote. This identification does not have to be a photo ID. The requirement for first-time voters to show identification is a requirement of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, a federal law not unique to North Carolina.

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While North Carolina pursues the potential economic boost of unmanned aerial systems, some legislators remain cautious about how the use of what are more commonly known as “drones” by law enforcement, other government agencies and commercial enterprises could affect privacy and civil liberties in the state.

With a small red-and-white, fully functional aircraft sitting at one end of a conference table, members of a North Carolina House study commission on Tuesday, Jan. 21, got their first in-depth look at efforts by researchers and state officials to assess the value of the emerging technology.

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